As an established technology public relations company, what we do at Red Ribbon Communications is simultaneously very simple, and fairly complex – we connect brands with audiences. The golden tread that ties together everything we do is trust. Our brands trust us with their reputation, and the journalists we connect with depend on us to provide them with authentic, reliable content.
Our time as media relations specialists in the niche field of technology has taught us quite a bit about navigating the unpredictable territory of the content marketing sphere. Here are a few of the dos and don’ts we’ve established over the years that will stand you in good stead if you are new to the field of tech PR:
DO know your journalists before you pitch
When you just start out as a PR professional it can be tempting to pitch your story ideas to every single journalist you encounter. However, this tactic is seldom effective, mainly because you can harm the reputation of your client and employer if you spam every journo on your contact list regardless of the type of news they normally cover. Rather take the time to research your journalists and form an idea of the type of content that pertains to their platform, so you can pitch targeted story ideas that they are likely to accept. Once you’ve built that relationship, they will be far more likely to open your emails in future.
DO maintain a professional distance
Always be professional and courteous, rather than overly personal, in your communication with the media. Unless you’ve been friends for years, you need to establish yourself as a professional in their eyes before you allow the relationship to progress naturally. Rushing things and becoming too chummy early on will hamper your efforts rather than help it.
DO give your journalists breathing room
It is not acceptable to ask a journalist to see an article before it is published. Your client might expect it from you, but it is your job to explain that it will infuriate a journalist and permanently harm a relationship. You are basically saying that they can’t do their job properly.
DO proofread your pitch (multiple times!)
Make sure your pitch is brief and typo-free, or consider running it by a colleague if you’re unsure. Like it or not, maintaining a good relationship with journalists is one of the most critical parts of your job. Clients often come and go, but your relationship with the media is what keeps the engine running. Trust is hard to gain but easy to lose.
DON’T force journalists to commit to coverage
One of the quickest ways to sour a relationship with a media professional is to paint them into a corner where coverage is concerned. Keep the lines of communication open and offer them whatever they need to get a potential article written and published, but don’t push them to commit to something they can’t necessarily do of their own accord.
DON’T waste a journalist’s time
If you know that an article is due to be published, monitor the media yourself or go out and buy a copy of the magazine rather than requesting the link or sending multiple emails to check up. Journalists receive countless emails every day and it’s hard for them to stick to their deadlines when they are interrupted constantly.
Young PR professionals are often so excited at the prospect of media coverage that they can be a bit effusive when it comes to thanking the journalist in question. Always remember that they aren’t doing you a favour – you have provided them with reliable content and they were able to craft it into a compelling article. The correct replay to a published piece is something along the lines of: ‘I am glad the information resulted in a quality piece and I will be happy to offer you my assistance in future’.
Following these guidelines will lay the groundwork for a rewarding career in technology public relations. Keep an eye on the blog in coming weeks and months as we share more insight into tech PR and tell you more about this fascinating industry.